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Factors to Consider When Designing E-Commerce Sites

Some websites require much more care and effort in terms of design and development than others, not because they’re more important, but because they involve more interaction with customers and therefore cannot be riddled with errors and pages that refuse to work as they should. E-commerce sites fall into this category – since they offer products and services that customers can buy online, they’re supped to be endowed with certain features, some of which are explicit, and others which implicitly work in the background and facilitate a smooth shopping experience. In general, the factors that designers must consider when creating E-commerce sites include:

  • Simplicity: The simpler your site is, the better results you’re bound to achieve; this is because customers who shop online are not looking to be wowed by visual and auditory sensations. Rather, they’re there for a reason – to buy something or check out the price and availability of an item. So your main focus must be on providing them with a site that is easily navigable and which allows them to move from one page to another seamlessly and effortlessly. Use fonts and colors that are easy on the eye, with the main focus on the items that are displayed and their description and price. In general, steer clear of anything that consumes bandwidth and increases page load times – animations, videos and Flash are good, but they don’t find place on E-commerce sites unless absolutely necessary.
  • Flexibility: E-commerce sites must be user-friendly and allow customers to browse through their wares before they decide what they want to buy. So search options must be flexible, customers must be able to view items according to different categories, and if possible, also allowed to compare items before they buy. Links must go exactly where they promise instead of leading them to random pages.
  • Efficiency: E-commerce sites must be efficient because they involve customer buying decisions, and very often, the efficiency of your site has a leading role to play in pushing customers to buy or deterring them from doing so. When customers check items to indicate a purchase, make the checkout process efficient and simple – the fewer the steps to checking out, the higher the probability of customers buying the item. If you bother them with ads or make them fill out too many forms before they can check out, they’re going to lose interest and sign out of your site altogether, and it’s doubtful they will return. Less is more here, so focus on efficiency to generate results.
  • Accuracy: Ensure that item descriptions, price and photos are accurate, and that customers are not charged through dishonest or shady means. Some sites are not very particular about using above-board practices, and this leads to additional charges that were not mentioned at the time of purchase but which are included just before checkout, or worse, after credit card or bank account details have been provided. E-commerce sites must place accuracy at the top of their must-do list if they don’t want to lose customers.
  • Security: This goes without saying because an E-commerce site is responsible for keeping customers’ financial information secure. Credit card and bank account details must be captured through portals that are safe and verified, and such sites must prevent this information from being misused and/or falling into the wrong hands.

The design of E-commerce sites requires collaboration between web designers and web developers and an efficient integration of all front and back end tools; only then do the sites work as they’re supposed to, without any flaws or hitches.